Cloude throws changeup, chooses pros over college McDonogh pitcher signs with Mariners

August 20, 1993|By Lem Satterfie | Lem Satterfie,Staff Writer

The University of Richmond's loss is Kenny Cloude's gain. Make that a net gain -- worth turning down a full scholarship to play baseball for the Spiders.

On Sunday, the 1993 McDonogh graduate and two-time All-Metro pitcher came to terms with the Seattle Mariners, getting an $80,000 signing bonus, $32,000 toward a guaranteed education and an incentive bonus worth $7,500.

It is believed to be one of the highest sums for a Maryland high schooler.

"As soon as I started thinking about this on Sunday, I was 100 percent in favor of the decision. I just figured this was a rare opportunity that could determine the rest of my life," said Cloude, The Baltimore Sun's 1992 All-Metro Player of the Year.

"In baseball, it's not your age in terms of the biological clock as much as how long your arm can last," Cloude said.

"I never dreamed that things would go this well, but I just figured this was the time to do it."

At 6 feet 1, 175 pounds, Cloude, a right-hander, was 7-3 for the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference runner-up Eagles last spring. At the plate, he hit .448 with 35 RBI.

A year earlier, he led the Eagles to the MSA A Conference crown, going 13-1 with a 1.92 ERA and 97 strikeouts.

He hit .429 with 35 RBI, 22 runs scored, 12 doubles and a triple.

Cloude made his decision after talking to McDonogh coach Al Poklemba and Larry Marino, his summer coach with the Yankee Rebels.

Before leaving to play for the Peoria (Ariz.) Mariners in early June of next year, Cloude will take courses for a year at Catonsville Community College and be an assistant to Marino, the head coach at the junior college.

"His plans right now, since they [Mariners] are paying for it, are to getin his first year of education," Marino said.

"As my assistant, he can help out our pitchers and still get in a couple workouts now and then."

Cloude, who had been a projected starter at Richmond next season, said he immediately contacted the Spiders' assistant coach, Mark McQueeney, after making his decision.

"He was surprised, but told me he was happy for me and wished me the best of luck," said Cloude, who as the Mariners' top pick in the sixth round was the state's highest drafted player in June.

Among others surprised by the development was Jim Gilbert, Cloude's Oriolelanders' coach last fall and the mid-Atlantic supervisor of scouting for the Baltimore Orioles.

"I'd talked to him last fall, and he was very enthusiastic about college. He said he loved Richmond and that he wouldn't be in the market for three or four years," Gilbert said. "Then I talked to [Mariners' scout Joe] Nigro last week, and he said he thought he'd be signing [Cloude.]

"That's a lot for where he got drafted -- a lot more than what that round calls for.

"But he got pretty good money there," Gilbert said, "and I don't blame him for signing."

During a nine-month period, the Mariners had seen Cloude on four occasions, including twice by Nigro -- who covers New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.

"He's gained about 3 or 4 mph since we started watching him," Nigro said, adding that the Mariners clocked Cloude's fastball "at 90 once" and at an average of "between 87 and 89" mph.

"He has a lot of pitching knowledge for a young player, and he's going to improve, because he's not yet matured. Most kids rely only on their arm strength at that age, but he knows how to set people up well, using the changeup and going in and out.

"It [the signing] took a while, but sometimes things have to come up a little bit. But it's business, and the easiest part is that we like him and he's happy. Now it's time to work hard, and I think he will."

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